Erosion of civility prevents serious dialogueBy Sal Russo - Chief Strategist, Tea Party Express
The recent controversy over funding the government and our nation reaching the statutory debt limit was resolved like most problems in Washington today - do nothing of substance and engage in hateful, outlandish language. Neither contributes to solving the serious economic problems facing the country.
Americans are frustrated and angry at a government that refuses to deal with excessive spending, an unsustainable debt and a slow-growing economy that is inhibiting so many Americans from realizing the American Dream. It is bad enough that the politicians' idea of a solution is the proverbial "kick the can down the road," but they compound the injury by engaging in such outrageous attacks against conservatives that civil discourse has become nearly impossible.
For the Democrats, vicious anti-tea party hate speech has become regular and no one seems to hold them accountable, certainly not the compliant major media. This devolution of civility, while effective in trying to alienate the opposition, is no way to govern a nation.
Democrat Congressmen Alan Grayson of Florida and Steve Cohen of Tennessee both exemplify the problem, and it is a sorry state that any voter can find their service worthy of re-election. This past week Grayson sent out a fundraising email depicting the Tea Party as the Klu Klux Klan, while Cohen called Tea Partiers "domestic enemies."
After seeing rhetoric like that, it's no wonder a Rasmussen poll earlier this year found 26% of Obama supporters view the Tea Party as the nation's top terror threat.
When liberals view concerned Tea Party Americans as domestic terrorists, more dangerous than Al Qaeda, that should be a hint to everyone that it is time to tone down the rhetoric. Unfortunately, the left has shown an unwillingness to take a stand and condemn even some of the most outrageous smears.
President Obama ran as a candidate willing to bring civility back to D.C. If it were not such a dismal failure, that campaign promise would be laughable. How can he continue to speak about bipartisanship when Democrats are engaging in barbaric smears? Hate speech, especially from our leaders in Washington, should be unacceptable and condemned.
According to the New York Times, Tea Partiers are wealthier and more educated than the general public. Additionally, a Yale professor recently found that Tea Partiers are more scientifically literate than your average American. These are hardly profiles of enemies-of-the-state or radical, fringe elements of the Republican base.
Contrary to the perception perpetuated by the mainstream media, the Tea Party movement is made up of Americans from all walks of life. Within the movement there is a wide variety of beliefs on social and foreign policy issues. The one shared concern that has galvanized this movement is the unsustainable size, cost, and intrusiveness of the federal government with the obscenely growing national debt, now over $17 trillion.
If you are part of the 64% of Americans that think spending cuts are best for the economy, you may be surprised that Washington won't cut any spending. Budgets from both Republicans and Democrats only cut the increase in spending - that means they still increase spending, just not as much as they planned. It's that kind of deception that Americans are fed up with.
If you are one of the 11 million people that cannot find work or know someone that falls into that category, it is only the Tea Party that has proposed meaningful, pro-growth policies. This, of course, includes the delay of Obamacare. Yet, Democrats have been unwilling to abandon their failed policies that are hurting individuals and damaging the economy.
In the end, we all want the same thing: insure America remains the greatest country in the world. What we may differ on is how we get there. But that is the beauty of our Republic - we have the freedom to disagree and the obligation to govern. That can't be done, though, when one side tries aggressively to alienate their opponents from the discussion.
If the President really wants to lead America like the voters elected him to do, he must rein in his party's rhetoric so all sides are welcome at the table. He must restore Lincoln's vision of a government that is of the people, by the people and for the people. And finally, he must recognize the need to resolve America's fiscal crisis.
Sal Russo is chief strategist for Tea Party Express.